Category Archives: Emma Stone

Poor Things-2023

Poor Things-2023

Director Yorgos Lanthimos

Starring Emma Stone, Mark Ruffalo, Willem Dafoe

Scott’s Review #1,413

Reviewed December 27, 2023

Grade: A

Yorgos Lanthimos is a peculiar director and the suggestion is for potential viewers to be familiar with his work before seeing his latest film release, Poor Things (2023).

I’ve said recently that other directors like Alexander Payne, Todd Haynes, Quentin Tarantino, and Martin Scorcese can easily be added to this list with a style not for everyone but that Cinemaphiles will salivate for style and texture alone.

Anyone who has seen Lanthimos’s Dogtooth (2009) or The Lobster (2016) will know exactly what I mean.

With Poor Things, he hits a grand slam home run that might garner him some Academy Awards in what can be arguably classified as his most progressive film.

Mentions like the art direction, cinematography, set design, and fantastic performance by Emma Stone must be immediately celebrated and called out as highlights.

The film is hardly mainstream or conventional and way out there channeling a parallel to Frankenstein with frightening and gothic sets and sequences galore.

All with a twisted and refreshing feminist quality.

Ultimately, I was satisfied with the knowledge that I had witnessed a cinematic marvel that encourages repeated viewings.

During the nineteenth century in London, England, Bella Baxter (Stone), is a young woman brought back to life by the brilliant and unorthodox scientist Dr. Godwin Baxter (Willem Dafoe) who is referred to as ‘god’.

He inserts the tender brain of the baby she was carrying when she leaped from a bridge to her death suicide style.

Under Baxter’s protection and supervision, Bella is eager to learn but acts like a toddler with limited speech and motor skills. She teeters around smashing plates with gleeful joy as she discovers her surroundings.

With superior intelligence and a hunger for the worldliness she is lacking, Bella runs off with Duncan Wedderburn (Mark Ruffalo), a slick and horny lawyer, on a whirlwind adventure across the continents from Lisbon, Portugal to Paris, France, and back to London.

Free from the knowledge and the prejudices women of her time were forced to endure, Bella grows steadfast in her purpose to stand for equality and liberation. She challenges societal norms with her vision and determination.

I can’t think of anyone else to play the role of Bella other than Stone. With wide eyes filled with wonder, she infuses her character with comedy and wit as she asks questions many women have but never dare to utter aloud.

Especially in Victorian London.

Ruffalo is outrageous and Dafoe is hideously stoic. Both actors bring star quality and wacky performances in different ways.

The look of the film is to die for as Lanthimos offers a looming fairy tale set design led by cinematographer Robbie Ryan.

The European cities of Lisbon, Paris, and London are given their chapters in the film and their focus. The waterfront in Lisbon in particular resembles the real city in a gothic and foreboding way.

The hotel in Paris where Bella becomes a prostitute is regal and polished. Bella wonders aloud why the male customers get to decide which woman they want to spend time with instead of the reverse.

It’s a fair question.

Her friend and fellow prostitute introduces her to socialism while Madame Swiney (Kathryn Hunter) explains capitalism.

Finally, the musical score by Jerskin Fendrix offers shrieking classical strings mixed with haunting pizazz and perfectly timed arrangements. They promote tension and drama at just the right moments.

2023 was a fabulous year for women in cinematic terms but not so much by the United States Supreme Court but that’s another story. The bombast and box office enormity of Greta Gerwig’s Barbie is followed by Lanthimos’s celebration of the thought-provoking Poor Things.

Both elicit insightfully quirkiness that successfully bulldozes over traditional gender norms with messages that women can do whatever they set out to do which is a vital quality for young minds to be exposed to.

Oscar Nominations: 4 wins-Best Picture, Best Director-Yorgos Lanthimos, Best Actress-Emma Stone (won), Best Supporting Actor-Mark Ruffalo, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design (won), Best Production Design (won), Best Original Score, Best Makeup and Hairstyling (won)

Zombieland-2009

Zombieland-2009

Director Ruben Fleischer

Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson

Scott’s Review #586

Reviewed January 6, 2017

Grade: B

Zombieland (2009) is a fun, entertaining, popcorn-style flick. The film is not designed to be taken very seriously given the subject matter of zombies- nor should it.

Rather, the film goes over the top frequently to elicit a good time and plays for laughs. Sometimes it is successful, adding dark comedy to the story, other times the film comes across as silly.

The story takes place during a time when zombies have overtaken the world, and humans are left to fend for themselves and survive.

The film is a more cartoon version of the popular television series, The Walking Dead, despite pre-dating it. It lacks the heavy drama of the series.

Still, for 2009, the film is a novel idea and the movie works more often than not.

Woody Harrelson is amusing and charismatic. Jesse Eisenberg is falling into the Ben Stiller and Will Farrell trap of playing the same character over and over again, and I am personally a big fan of Abigail Breslin and she does not disappoint in this film.

Zombieland (2009) will likely only be remembered as a fun midnight, Saturday night fluff film if that.

Easy A-2010

Easy A-2010

Director Will Gluck

Starring Emma Stone

Scott’s Review #478

70123920

Reviewed September 10, 2016

Grade: B-

Easy A (2010) is an example of a film where some parts are good, and other parts are dumb. However, at the end of the day it is forgettable and who will remember a film like this in ten years?

The film is a teen comedy about a girl who makes up a rumor about herself to gain attention from her peers.

Emma Stone is great in this movie and shows the enormous potential of her budding film career. She reminds me a bit of Lindsay Lohan. She is likable and great at comedy and presents a fun persona.

Also deserving of credit is Lisa Kudrow who appears in the movie.

At times, the dialogue is intelligent and witty, other times it turns into a typical dumb comedy and that is sad because based on the star power involved, Easy A (2010) might have been a better film than it was.

Birdman-2014

Birdman-2014

Director Alejandro G. Inarritu

Starring Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Emma Stone

Scott’s Review #190

80000643

Reviewed November 6, 2014

Grade: A

Birdman (2014) is a unique art film that, happily, has garnered major exposure and publicity because a movie like this runs the risk of receiving praise and notice only from the art-house crowd itself.

The film’s star, Michael Keaton, portrays Riggan Thomson, a former action hero superstar from the 1990s, who was made famous for the “Birdman” character he created.

Having made sequels to the film, his career has since dried up and he hopes to establish credibility and prove himself a real actor by writing, directing, and starring in his play.

The film is set in and around the Broadway theater in New York City.

As opening night approaches, he struggles to pull everything together and emit a successful production while faced with an injured terrible actor, a difficult actor, his insecurities, and a miserable theatre critic destined to ruin his big chance.

To make matters worse, his daughter Sam, played by Emma Stone is a recovering drug addict who hangs around the theatre distracting actors with her charm and good looks.

Naomi Watts and Edward Norton play Leslie and Mike, other cast members in the production. Watts is sympathetic as the emotional actress with a heart of gold who finally has her dream of performing on Broadway realized.

Norton, outstanding as Mike, is blunt yet socially awkward and can only perform truthfully on stage.

Keaton is simply a marvel as he plays a dark and vulnerable man. He hates and wishes to shed his ridiculous movie persona of yesteryear and secretly cringes when recognized by fans. He uses it with a voice inside his head when he played “Birdman” years earlier.

The uniqueness of the film is the use of what seems like one long take as the action rarely stops and is ongoing. The film belongs to Keaton, who wonderfully relays vulnerability, pain, and fear within with an outward persona of bravery and masculinity.

Throughout the film I wondered, is Riggan suicidal? What is real and what is imagined? Are certain scenes foreshadowing later events?

The film has much depth.

One marvels at how art imitates life, is Keaton portraying himself? He was the original Batman in the successful superhero franchise beginning in 1989 and his career tanked shortly after.

Birdman is a comeback film for him and he is devastatingly good.

Norton’s character Mike impressed me. He is blunt flawed, scared, and addicted to the stage.

Stone has one particularly brilliant scene as she lambasts her father and with regret, later on, tells him that the world has moved on without him and that he is irrelevant just like everyone else. It is a powerful scene.

In another, Riggan is locked outside the theater during the performance, clad only in his underwear. How on earth will he return to the stage and complete the show? The quick slights at current Hollywood superstars playing superheroes, specifically Robert Downey Jr. are deliciously naughty.

It is impossible to predict what will come next and the film is very New York theater style. Keaton’s run-in with a theater critic in a cocktail bar is the best scene in the film as the critic’s vicious critique of “You’re a celebrity, not an actor” resonates with both pain and tremendous anger for Riggan.

Riggan is a sensitive, struggling man and Keaton so wonderfully shows his vulnerability in every scene.

Oscar Nominations: 4 wins-Best Picture (won), Best Director-Alejandro G. Inarritu (won), Best Actor-Michael Keaton, Best Supporting Actor-Edward Norton, Best Supporting Actress-Emma Stone, Best Original Screenplay (won), Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Cinematography (won)

Independent Spirit Award Nominations: 3 wins-Best Feature (won), Best Director-Alejandro G. Inarritu, Best Male Lead-Michael Keaton (won), Best Supporting Male-Edward Norton, Best Supporting Female-Emma Stone, Best Cinematography (won)

The Amazing Spider-Man 2-2014

The Amazing Spider-Man 2-2014

Director Marc Webb

Starring Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone

Scott’s Review #2

70293702

Reviewed June 16, 2014

Grade: B+

Superhero movies are not my top genre (although admittedly, I see many of them).

They are fun, popcorn-type films not to be over-analyzed or taken too seriously.

One thing that confuses me is the seemingly constant reboots of the Spider-Man franchises and forgetting the previous installments.

Wasn’t this series just made with Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst not too long ago?

That being said, the strongest part of this film is the chemistry between Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone, which is undeniable and great to watch. Sally Field adds life to anything she appears in.

The more “human” parts of the film are the best.

The special effects/CGI are admirable. I enjoyed how one “villain” is a close friend of Peter Parker’s, wonderfully played by Dane DeHaan. His character has many nuances.

The other villain, Electro, played by Jamie Foxx, is silly and his story almost seems botched. His motivations are weak. He hates Spider-Man and wants to destroy the city because of a contrived misunderstanding.

I do not want to over-analyze The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014), as this is a fun, enjoyable summer film.